The Treasury Department, in a joint statement with five European countries, said on Feb. 8 that the nations intend to pursue a government-to-government framework for implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
Treasury sees this as a key step “toward addressing legal impediments” faced by financial institutions in complying with proposed FATCA regulations that were published on Feb. 8. “The statement does not contemplate an exemption from FATCA for any jurisdiction, but instead offers a framework for information sharing pursuant to existing bilateral income tax treaties and allows FFIs [Foreign Financial Institutions] to report the necessary information to their respective governments rather than to the IRS,” Treasury said. The countries that joined in the statement were France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. In the joint statement, the U.S. acknowledged that the policy objective of FATCA centers on enhanced reporting rather than collecting withheld tax.
The U.S. also affirmed its willingness to reciprocate in the collection and exchange of information on accounts held in U.S. financial institutions by residents of the five European countries. In addition, the joint statement cited the need to keep compliance costs as low as possible and the desirability of achieving common reporting and due diligence standards. Based on these considerations, the countries “have agreed to explore a common approach to FATCA implementation through domestic reporting and reciprocal automatic exchange and based on existing bilateral tax treaties,” the joint statement said. The document also offers a possible framework for an intergovernmental approach that provides a valuable insight into Treasury’s thinking on the subject.